October’s just flying by, isn’t it? Probably because it’s such a busy month for everyone. The theatres of Toronto are no exception – we have an extraordinarily high number of shows in this week’s listings, and are happy to share them with you below. Our Editor, Mike, had a few hard decisions to make – but anything highlighted in red, with two asterisks before it, comes highly recommended by him.
Evita (playing the Lower Ossington Theatre) has always wobbled slightly. From the very beginning, opponents have criticized it for misrepresenting the life of its subject, presenting her as an aggressive — and heavily corrupt — political operator: an opportunist, an embezzler, an apologist for fascism, and a woman who relied upon “the parts in between her thighs” to make her way in life, all of which have been brought into question by subsequent research. After she’d left the show, having scored her first Tony award, Patti LuPone dished that playing Evita was “the worst experience of my life [...] a part that could only have been written by a man who hates women”.
The LOT does not embrace these criticisms: their production is straight and faithful, with very few moments of ambiguity or self-reflection. And while the show’s fun to watch — the songs include some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best — the way that director Heather Braaten approached the story reminded me of a student reading a book report of a novel he didn’t particularly enjoy. The plot points are mentioned; the songs are in the right places; but this felt like a recitation, rather than a retelling from someone who’d actually engaged with the material.
By Mark Mann
Concord Floral, playing at The Theatre Centre, is engaging theatre that captures life and spark from a young cast
Jordan Tannahill is no stranger to subversion. The award-winning playwright and queer activist creates and hosts all kinds of challenging experimental performances in his small storefront venue Videofag in Kensington Market. But of all the risks he’s taken, Tannahill’s latest play Concord Floral, playing at The Theatre Centre, does something that should really make people nervous: It stars teenagers. Read the rest of this entry »
Waving is Funny, a dance piece on stage at Toronto’s Ralph Thornton Centre, is unfortunately anything but
Tina Fushell’s Waving is Funny, a collaborative movement piece that “began as a joke” before becoming “a very real performance idea” sounds pleasantly kooky. There is something about examining the act of waving that appeals to me, a comedy goldmine just waiting to be explored.
I was curious about the subject matter. How do people wave? What do we look like when we do? How does our environment impact this greeting? And how does this small act relate to other types of waves? The title suggests a wealth of material that could go just about anywhere.
By George Perry
D&T Productions presents their debut production of Marion Bridge at Toronto’s re-branded Theatre Machine
Set in Nova Scotia, Marion Bridge is the life-affirming story of what happens when a woman returns home to be with her sisters while their mother is on her deathbed. Written by Daniel MacIvor, this is one of the first plays to be mounted by D&T Productions at Toronto’s re-branded The Theatre Machine.
What I found exceptional about Marion Bridge is the writing and acting. Together, they make for a play that almost anyone can relate to.
By Wayne Leung
Canadian Stage’s Helen Lawrence uses technology to blend live theatre and film on the Toronto stage
Helen Lawrence is a visually stunning hybrid of theatre, film and visual art. The brainchild of Vancouver-based visual artist Stan Douglas and Canadian screenwriter Chris Haddock, the show takes the performances of live onstage actors filmed against a chromakey blue screen and blends them with CGI scenery to create a sort of real-time, live-action film that’s projected onto a scrim in front of the stage.
The Confidential Musical Theatre Project returns to surprise and entertain Toronto audiences for a second time
On a… I want to say balmy?… evening in late July, I had the good fortune of watching the first performance of the Confidential Musical Theatre Project. But you could fool me into believing that it was raining frogs that evening, for all it matters, since the only thing I remember from that day was the thrilling experience of witnessing the start of this new performance concept.
The Femme Playlist is an intense autobiographical piece on queer feminism on stage at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times
b current, sulong theatre company, and Eventual Ashes‘s production The Femme Playlist (currently playing at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre space) is a fascinating look into the life of a queer femme woman of colour: Catherine Hernandez. Hernandez invites us into her space for 45 minutes to reveal to us the realities of her life from masturbation to motherhood, body shame to burlesque. By meeting the show on its own terms I feel like I learned a lot and was left heartily entertained and wanting more time with this talented performer.
By Mark Mann
Brotherhood Blends Performance, Mythology and Street Culture
Sebastien Heins‘s award-winning rap parable Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera has an undeniably eye-catching title, but what gets me is the article — the “the.” It’s a small detail, but it makes a strong point: if any play were to capture and define such a genre as “hip hopera,” this is the one.
Currently playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as part of b current theatre company’s afteRock Plays series (the other offering is Catherine Hernandez‘s The Femme Playlist), Brotherhood prepares the audience before the house lights go down with a montage of lo-fi videos from hip hop shows in the nineties. In this way, Heins lets Tupac and Jay-Z invoke the spirit of classic stadium rap that will animate this entire performance, where big dreams and gritty realities collide.
By Lauren Stein
Play Practice’s Circle Mirror Transformation is Mind-Opening and Entertaining
Circle Mirror Transformation, a play performed by the Play Practice Collective in the cozy Bloor Street space of the Storefront Theatre, explores the intersecting lives of five individuals who enroll in a creative drama class for adults. Written by American playwright Annie Baker, the show peers behind the awkward curtain of first encounters, and touches upon the way the people we meet, even for a short time, can have a big effect on our lives.